28 Nov Off to Print
Today I received a letter from my editor. “So Many Africas” has been approved in-house and is officially off to print. It’s been a long fifteen year journey. One of the things that kept me going was the persistence of authors I’ve read and admire.
Dr. Seuss’ first book, And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street was rejected 27 times before it landed a publisher. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was rejected so many times that Beatrix Potter decided to self-publish it. Anne of Green Gables author L.M. Montgomery was rejected by five publishers and waited in a hat box another two years before the author had the courage to submit it again. It went on to sell 50 million copies. Margret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind got 38 rejections. C.S. Lewis had hundreds rejections before he sold a single piece of writing.
I’ve had my share of rejections. I keep them in a three ring binder beside my desk. Stephen King pounded a nail into his wall and said, “By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”
I’m not quite as dramatic. I filled one three ring binder and started another.
I came to think of rejection letters as a challenge, an adversary, an obstacle to overcome. Sure, the first ones were devastating (You don’t like my writing?!) but as a writer you put your back up and you do the work. You write or you quit. There’s nothing in-between. Without the persistence of writers (who did not know how their own publication story would go) the world would not have The Chronicles of Narnia, Kipling’s Kim, The Life of Pi, Moby Dick, The Wizard of Oz, The Help. How empty that seems.
So today, I’m thankful for Autumn House Press and for finally seeing my book off to print.
If you are a writer: the world needs you. Keep on keeping on. Here’s to each bold, brass, unstoppable writer that I know! I am thankful for all of you.
Question: What’s your rejection/courage to write story?
Photo: My desk mascots. Thing 1 and Thing 2.